Sometimes even your newborn may need to take a break.
Like adults, babies sometimes get overly tired and need a change from the current engaging activity. Perhaps there are a lot of people visiting, or perhaps there is more noise than usual in your new location outside your home, or perhaps brothers and sisters want to keep playing with their new baby but your newborn has already tired of the interactions. These are just some of the times your baby may need a break, but it gives you an idea of things to consider.
We have addressed some of your baby’s cues in this linked post “Your Baby’s Language,” but I believe this set of baby cues are worth mentioning too because they may be very subtle and easily missed. There are a few ways your newborn will let you know it’s time for a break.
The more subtle cues include turning away from the interaction and breaking eye contact. Looking away may be accompanied by frowning or by having a glazed look. Other need-a-break cues take the form of a raised hand with splayed fingers and palms out … almost like holding up a stop sign, falling asleep, or arching back away from you. If any of these baby cues are missed your newborn may resort to crying to get your attention to let you know something needs to be changed.
You see how these cues may be easily misinterpreted as part of a wide range of behavior. But now that you are aware you might consider the possibility that your baby has grown tired and wants to have a change when you see these cues.
What to Do
When you recognize these baby cues you may honor your baby’s needs by changing the situation. Using the examples above, if there are lots of people visiting, perhaps letting them know your newborn will be disappearing for a nap may give your baby the calm environment needed at that time. If it is unusually noisy where you are, perhaps finding a more quiet place to hang out if possible would be a good change. And if siblings are enthusiastically playing with your newborn, perhaps giving them a new activity that doesn’t include your baby would be a welcome change for awhile. These are simple suggestions that perhaps you would want for yourself if you were overly tired and unable to enjoy the current activities anymore.
In the Beginning
When your newborn is learning to feed, to hold up his or her head, to coordinate movement of arms and legs, and to interact with the environment and with the people in his or her life, it is all work. Inside the womb things like feeding and moving come relatively easy and without effort in a warm, relatively quiet, and comfortable environment. All of that changes very abruptly when your baby is born. So, until muscles develop more, and experiences become more commonplace, your newborn may tire easily.
Now that you are aware of these subtle cues your baby may give you when rest, quiet, or a change of activity or environment are needed, you can help your baby more easily. Responding to your baby’s needs is proven to help your newborn develop trust and an optimistic outlook, qualities that will help give your baby the best start in life. Truly life is good when someone cares.
For you and yours,
D. Fravert, RN
Perhaps you have already noticed … your baby is smart!
Even your newborn gets this praise. Babies, from Day 1 of life, are smart. They are born with a way of “talking” to us that doesn’t necessarily involve crying. Many of us think of crying as the only way babies have to let us know what they need, but that’s not true.
Actually, your baby is born with a set of body-language cues that let you know, way before the crying starts, what your baby needs. Let’s take a look at hunger. When your baby is hungry you need to know, right? It’s good for ensuring the survival of the human race.
So, Mother Nature gave your baby a few cues to let you know. At first, your baby may use the body-language cue known as rooting. Rooting is a combination of sucking on fingers or fists, flailing hands, and turning the head as if looking for something. These body gestures alone are reliable signals to let you know your baby is hungry.
An earlier post “How Do I Know If My Baby Is Hungry?” offers a video demonstration of rooting.